[Iron deficiency and overload. Implications in oxidative stress and cardiovascular health]

Nutr Hosp. 2010 May-Jun;25(3):350-65.
[Article in Spanish]


Although iron is an essential mineral for maintaining good health, excessive amounts are toxic. Nowadays, much interest is focused on the mechanisms and regulation of iron metabolism by down-regulation of the hormone hepcidin. The HAMP gene encodes for hepcidin appears to be exceptionally preserved. Disorders of iron metabolism could lead to iron overload, mainly causing the rare disease hereditary hemochromatosis, or on the other hand, iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia. Currently, these alterations constitute an important problem of public health. The genetic variation implicated in iron overload and iron deficiency anaemia, involves mutations in several genes such as HFE, TFR2,HAMP, HJV, Tf and TMPRSS6. Iron has the capacity to accept and donate electrons easily and can catalyze reactions of free radicals production. Therefore, iron overload causes lipid peroxidation and increases cardiovascular risk. Recently, a relationship between iron metabolism and insulin resistance and obesity has been described. In contrast, regarding a possible relationship between iron deficiency anaemia and cardiovascular disease, many aspects remain controversial. This review presents an overview of the most recent information concerning iron metabolism, iron bioavailability and iron overload/deficiency related diseases. The relation between iron and cardiovascular risk, in iron overload and in iron deficiency situations, is also examined. Finally, strategies to modify dietary iron bioavailability in order to prevent iron deficiency or alleviate iron overload are suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Availability
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Iron / administration & dosage
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Iron / pharmacokinetics
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Iron Metabolism Disorders / complications
  • Iron Overload / metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Risk Factors


  • Iron